Jenny Rankine writes in Lesbian News Aotearoa:
New Zealand has gained another Pride festival with the renaming and expansion of the former Gay Ski Week QT, which this year will include Queenstown’s first Pride in the Park.
The 2018 Gay Ski Week GT Winter Pride festival from September 1 to 8 will have three strands – the on-mountain events for skiers, the parties and evening events that GSWQT was known for, and adventurous off-mountain events.
This could triple the number of events in the week, enabling a wider range, a choice of activities every night, and more free and low-cost events.
The move comes after Martin King and his husband Mike bought the business from Queenstown locals Sally and Mandy Whitewoods, who founded GSWQT in 2012 and built it into a major event. Martin and Mike have attended every year, and two years ago they moved to Queenstown with their 11-year-old son. (Sally and Mandy have a fabulous little backpackers Aspen Lodge – perfect place to stay0
The pair have set up a women’s group to discuss events that lesbians and queer women want. “There are 39 women discussing ideas in a closed Facebook group,” says Martin, including Queenstown, Wanaka and overseas members of women’s snow sports network Fanny Pack.
Martin says they’re “really open to women-only events”, and new activities can easily be added to the schedule. They encourage other organisations to bring events to the festival, and have had initial conversations with Lick about a women’s party.
The on-mountain events this year will focus on Cardrona and the Remarkables, and include free ski and boarding guides, a learners’ zone, Pride zones in bars and eateries, a charity drag race, and a daily bus to the field where skiers can leave their gear overnight.
Evening events will include a free apres ski every night with live music, Pride shared tables at different restaurants, five parties, as well as quiz, film, cards, karaoke and comedy nights.
Off-mountain events will include a Pride lake cruise, long lunches, frisbee golf, jet boating, white water rafting, mountain biking, hiking and the new Agayzing Race around the city, as well as other outdoor adventures.
Pride in the Park will include a live performance stage, food trucks and stalls, with “families and allies, a real community feel”, says Martin.
Martin describes the organising model as a “social enterprise” that doesn’t aim to make a profit, but to break even with enough left over to kick start the following year’s festival.
Previous participants have come from around the country (45%) and Australia (45%), with the rest coming from many other countries. GSWQT sold more than 4,500 to events, and thousands more came to their free and non-ticketed events.
Martin hopes that Winter Pride will attract a wider variety of participants, and involve more local people.